Unwritten Rules of Coffee Chats – part 2

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If you missed the first part of this article that talks about setting up and preparing for the informational interview, read it here. If you think you’ve got it, read on to find out how to act and what to ask during the meeting and, arguably the most important part, how to follow up afterwards. Donna Yuen, a Consultant, Talent Acquisition – Campus Recruitment at Bell, is sharing her knowledge and her best tips!

On the Day of the Meeting

If you’re running late…

The first thing you need to do is to let your contact know – life happens, but showing up late without letting them know first will make you look inexperienced and unpolished. Time is valuable to everyone. If the situation is out of your control (hello, Canadian winter!), be polite, apologize and ensure you ask if it’s still OK to meet a little bit late. Chances are that the recruiter will say yes and will not hold it against you. They likely have more time booked off for you anyway. If not, be respectful and ask to reschedule or talk on the phone instead.

Show active listening

Just like your paragraphs need to be cohesive and coherent when you’re writing an essay, your conversation with the recruiter needs to flow. If you simply jump from one question to another to get through them quickly, you likely won’t connect on a personal level. It’s an opportunity to learn about the organization, but it’s a relationship building conversation too.

After the Meeting

Don’t feel entitled

“When I attended coffee interviews as a student, I used to think that, if I got the meeting, I likely got the job,” admits Donna. “The reality is, you’re not guaranteed to get a referral even after a great chat.” In fact, the person you’ve met with might not have the power to hire or refer you at this point. Feeling overconfident and expecting something more after the meeting might not only lead to disappointment, but it may also hurt you on your professional journey.

Send a Thank You Note

Tip: use email scheduling applications that allow you to write and schedule an email to be sent automatically in the future. This way, you can write your email at night, and it will automatically arrive in the recruiter’s inbox in the morning.

Don’t let the connection end there though! Build a relationship, establish trust by not having an agenda every time you reach out and find reasons to stay connected once or a few times a year. Even commenting on their LinkedIn posts that are relevant to your interests counts!


Now that you have the inside scoop, don’t stress! When you’re only starting to look for a job, it’s obvious that you don’t know the ins and outs of the recruitment process. But just like with everything else in your life, you will learn. Your first coffee chat will be the hardest but it gets easier the more you do it. In fact, let the recruiter know this is your first coffee chat and humbly ask for their feedback at the end. Building relationships and navigating the school to work transition is a journey.

A final word of encouragement: a wise soul once said: “The harder you work, the luckier you get”. While not every recruiter will agree to meet with you, the more people you reach out to, the higher the likelihood that someone will meet with you. So cheers to your first coffee chat – it’s an egg-citing step towards hatching your career!

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